Babylon 5: S05E13: The Corps is Mother, The Corps is Father
This was one of JMS’s filler episodes but it was marvellous nonetheless.
The scene is set as we see Bester on his way to a meeting in the Psi Corps HQ. on the walls are large signs reading “TRUST THE CORPS”, “OBEY” and “THE CORPS IS MOTHER, THE CORPS IS FATHER”. He enters the office of his chief officer. The head Psi Cop introduces two promising young students, Lauren Ashley and Chen Hikuru. They have just signed on as interns with Level 12 investigations. The two students are thrilled that Bester has been assigned as their guide. Bester smiles but is not overly enthusiastic, he tells his boss that the report on Babylon 5 is complete and that he will get it later that day. I know it’s sexist, but that Lauren is lovely by the way, she’s haeartwarmin, lipsmackin, giddycreatin, smilemeltin, smoothlookin, sweettastin, smartcookin….
Meanwhile, another student telepath, Jonathan Harris, fidgets and fiddles with bits of paper on his desk. We see that this geezer has clearly lost his marbles, talking incoherently to himself about the clarity of his consciousness. He finds a travel brochure for Babylon 5 and rushes off. As he does so, we see a dead body on the floor.
Bester takes Lauren and Chen to a room where they see two other telepaths engaged in some pretty heavy mind exercises. They are confrontational in nature and Lauren and Chen ask about the difficulty and stress a Psi Cop has to get through in training. Bester points out that a rating of P12 is not enough. It takes a special sort of person to be a Psi Cop. Their job is to track down rogue telepaths who would do anything to avoid capture. If they can hurt or kill a Psi Cop, they would do so, ‘If they can fry your synapses and turn you into vegetables, they will.’
Bester continues by telling them that rogue telepaths are still family. Psi Cops have to CARE about what they do. When they finish the training sessions, they will have limited the amount of harm a rogue can do them, both mentally and physically. The training makes sure that a Psi Cop is in the peek condition so they can go into the field as well protected as possible. The Psi Cop mandate is to bring rogue telepaths back alive and intact so that they can helped ‘back on track’.
Bester is informed that there is a problem as he shows the Chen and the lovely Lauren a sickly sweet video of a transformed rogue telepath. They go to the scene of the murder and examine the body of the dead telepath. The determine that the murder was indeed the work of Jonathan Harris and that it had been noticed that he had ‘not been himself lately’ – A schizophrenic Psi Cop, now that’s an interesting one!
Later that evening, the stunningly sweet Lauren visits Bester in his apartment. She tells him that she has never seen a dead body that close before (she’s obviously sensitive and sweet), at least not one of theirs (o’oh). She asks him if he ever gets used to it.
Bester replies very eloquently. You have to remember that this is a very intelligent geezer with an excellent vocabulary and silky smooth manner. The following was an excellent example of his reasoning: “When it’s a telepath, no. With mundane’s it’s easier. Mundane’s kill, enslave and abuse each other with efficiency and enthusiasm. Why should telepaths value mundane lives when mundane’s don’t? It’s a little harder with rogues and blips. Being a telepath means you’re special, rare and valuable. When teeps run away from the Corps is easy to say they deserve what they get, but it’s still not easy. But when it is an innocent telepath, someone with potential… you never get used to it.”
Lauren is obviously impressed and she asks about his wife (o’oh). He briefly explains that they live apart and that he sees her when he can. He gestures to the lovely Lauren that it’s late but she has other ideas. Sweet as she maybe, the lovely Lauren suggests to Bester that she should stay. I don’t think she intends to conduct a deep philosophical discussion, more like make lots of grunting and groaning and squelching noises. Bester is such a lucky git! Though Actually Bester proves that he is, after all a little stupid by turning down her offer of love!!!! Explaining that his heart is with his mistress, Carolyn.
After Lauren leaves, Bester learns via a communication, that the nutter Harris has left Earth for Babylon 5. Next day Bester is briefed about Harris and told by his boss that he is being despatched to recover him and bring him back to Earth for re-conditioning.
Bester will lead the group to Babylon 5 and will be accompanied by Lauren and Chen. The senior officer has a quiet word with him later and explains that Harris was being trained as a ‘mind shredder’. I don’t exactly know what one of those is, but it sounds very unhealthy! I guess he shreds minds?
Bester’s boss by the way is a complete and utter plonker. He is forever talking in cliché’s. Captain Cliché, at this point started to make me feel very uneasy about this episode. So far, we have seen the Psi Cops act pretty much like normal people, they seem compassionate caring and efficient. Even the head geezer seems somewhat approachable. I always assumed the Psi Corps HQ to be an ominous dark place where telepaths were trained to be real bastards. And yet, there is light, warmth, order, hell they even have the same urges to bonk! JMS is clearly trying to let us see the Psi Corps from THEIR point of view. After disliking them so intensely for so long, this makes me feel uneasy, which is probably what JMS intended.
In hyperspace we learn that the Psi Corps have a mother ship perpetually waiting in hyperspace, the Psi Corps keep it hidden so ‘mundane’s’ don’t know the extent of the Corps’ resources. It waits until it is needed ‘just like all the others’ !!??.
On Babylon 5, Harris has arrived and is winning in the casino. He must gather as much money as he can. The other gamblers are not happy at his winning. Harris is unperturbed by this and takes his winnings. A ‘chancer’ called Bryce watches him leave.
Zack greets Bester and his bloodhounds in customs with his usual grumpy dislike of their presence. Bester patiently tells Zack that he is tracking down the murder of a Psi Cop. Zack inquires as to why this is bad. (good for you Zack!) Bester glances at Lauren, sending her a telepathic message which makes her laugh. Zack wants to know what he said, but Bester doesn’t tell him. Lauren tells Chen later that Bester told her a dirty joke! Zack will be up half the night wondering what was said. When Lauren points this out, Bester replies, “Exactly. And that’s why at the end of the day, the struggle between mundane’s and telepaths will be no struggle at all.”
O’oh – There are lots of little hints in this episode. Sheridan has eluded us to the coming Telepath war’ and Bester seems to confirm this. We still don’t know however, how this will manifest itself.
In the Down Below sector, one of the sore losers confronts Harris, demanding his money back. Harris is not happy and looses his mind; well actually, he shreds the other geezer’s mind. This guy is VERY unlucky today and pays for it with his life.
Bester begins his covert intelligence gathering by paying a Drazi for some information. Chen however, decides to do some investigating of his own. The sweet and lovely Lauren advises against it. Chen does discover the body of the unlucky gambler.
Security and MedLab staff conduct their investigation at the scene of the body. Zack makes the comment that Bester has only been on B5 for five hours and already there are dead bodies. After a little questioning, Zack finds out that Harris has been to the casino and in particular, at the blackjack table, and that he made quite a lot of money.
Bester, Lauren and Chen consider the facts. Telepaths are not allowed to gamble and, at any rate, they are not very good at it. How then has Harris learned this new skill? Bester instructs Chen to attempt to find Harris in the casino and that he should not attempt to capture him. In the casino, Chen spots Harris. Obediently, Chen looks around for a BabCom unit in the corridor. As he finds one, Bryce, who had spotted Chen’s interest in Harris, follows Chen and kills him with a stab wound to the chest.
Later, when Zack discovers the body, he expresses sympathy at Chen’s death (genuinely it seems), but Bester doesn’t believe that Zack is sincere and dismisses Zacks comments. The BabCom unit was switched on as the murder took place and, though we didn’t see the face of the killer, they did find a tattoo, which proved that the killer was not Harris.
Harris and Bryce are a partnership. Bryce has a talent for survival and a healthy number of contacts, and Harris has some obvious talents for gambling Bryce believes that they will ‘clean up’. Harris is simply concerned with making enough money to get off Babylon 5.
In a discussion with Lauren in Bester’s quarters, they conclude that Harris is suffering from a multiple personality disorder and Lauren is asked by Bester to continue the investigation by checking the other names against the station manifests to see if Harris used one of the other personalities.
The lovely Lauren’s work pays off and Bester’s people and station security manage to ambush and capture both Harris and Bryce, but not without a fight. Bester is shot in the arm during a short gunbattle.
A very ungrateful Bester is treated for his injury by Franklin in MedLab before leaving for Earth with their prisoners. once onboard, Lauren and Bester settle down for the long trip home complete with their sedated prisoners. The sweet and lovely Lauren tells Bester that Chen believed he was a hero. She added that she didn’t really believe in heroes but that she had never seen anyone fight for her kind the way Bester did. “You never let go!”. Bester modestly accepts the complement but indicates that sometimes he isn’t so sure.
Bester points out that they have a long trip and that there is still the question of the ‘mundane’ to deal with. The lovely Lauren asks if she can deal with him (? O’oh). Bester lets her (?). We see Lauren unbuckle her safety harness and then we see a picture of Bryce aimlessly tumbling through space on his journey to oblivion. In the shuttle, Lauren returns back to her seat.
“Is that your first?” Bester asks.
“My first.” Lauren says.
“Well, you made it past the first stage. You just might be Psi Corps material after all.”
Yep! I’d go along with that, she ain’t so heartwarmin any more either, more like a nausiacreatin, stomachturnin, gutrottin, coronaryprovokin, scumsuckin, bottomdwellin, little cow!
Welp! JMS certainly did it to us again. Sure we hate the Psi Cops, but in this episode we were able to see the other side, a more palatable side. Ok, in the beginning we saw that they had their faults, but on the whole their badness wasn’t so complete. The last scene though, was a killer, and it was delivered with JMS’s customary ruthlessness. The most unpalatable part was not the killing of the thug (and murderer) Bryce, but the apparent disregard for his life because he was a ‘mundane’. The Psi Corps have a loathing for ‘mundane’s’ at all levels not just Bester. I trust there will be a confrontation between the telepaths and normals soon. I can’t wait for Bester to get his come-uppance!
“The Corps is Mother, The Corps is Father” episode review is © 1999 – 2001 Tony Fawl
and not for reproduction without the authors express permission
The BABYLON 5 names, characters and everything else associated with the series
are the property of J. Michael Straczynski, TNT and Warner Brothers,
a division of Time Warner Entertainment Company. All rights reserved.